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Golden State Warriors wing Andre Iguodala enters Sunday's NBA Finals Game 7 with perhaps the single most important task of anyone on the team — guarding the red-hot LeBron James. Iguodala's job will be even more difficult than usual thanks to the back issues that clearly hobbled him throughout Golden State's Game 6 loss. Nevertheless, Iguodala is preparing for one of the biggest games of his life with the focus and determination that have served him well throughout his long career.
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Like many players, Iguodala is going to try to relax by watching a TV show before his big moment. Unlike most of his colleagues, he has chosen one of the most ambiguous (and, for many, most frustrating) episodes in the history of the medium.
Andre Iguodala said before Game 7 he's going to watch the finale of The Sopranos for the first time.
— Diamond Leung (@diamond83) June 18, 2016
And here's video for confirmation:
Those Warriors fans who have seen the finale of "The Sopranos" probably just gasped in dismay, because there is probably no worse viewing option to get a player focused ahead of the last game of the NBA season. If you haven't seen it — SPOILER ALERT FOR SOMETHING THAT FIRST AIRED NINE YEARS AGO — the finale ends with Tony Soprano and his nuclear family eating onion rings at a diner, during which the screen abruptly cutting to black in what would typically be the middle of a shot. It was immediately controversial, with many rejecting the refusal to offer a coherent resolution and others taking every interpretive leap possible to justify the belief that the cut to black represents Tony's assassination. Even those who love the finale for its purposeful ambiguity and purely emotional significance, like me, must admit that it's not exactly the best thing to get someone in the right frame of mind for exerting his will and physical superiority on an opponent.
My mind is already full of unfortunate scenarios for Iguodala. What if he tries to get around a Tristan Thompson pick and suddenly thinks "Wait, was the guy in the Members Only jacket in an earlier episode?" and just stops in the middle of the play to go back into the locker room to look up theories on his phone. Or what if the Warriors' best perimeter defender rises out of his defensive position to ask the Cavaliers why creator David Chase would spend the final minutes of one of the most influential TV shows in history showing Meadow Soprano struggling to parallel park? How will he be able to focus?
LeBron probably has the right idea with just watching "The Godfather." It's the much easier mob epic to understand.
Of course, it figures that Iguodala's health will have a greater impact on Game 7 than his pre-game viewing options. He spoke about his condition after skipping the more strenuous parts of practice to receive treatment:
I was able to do a lot. I've been getting treatment around the clock. The training staff have been doing a helluva of a job, just making sure I'm good. I just had a really long flight, and it just kind of built up on me a little bit. But the staff has done a great job.
It kind of just popped up. Like I said, a long flight and bed and just fatigue, and a lot of minutes lately. It's just a perfect storm. But I'm glad we caught it early as opposed to happening in a Game 7. [...]
Extra time and things like that always helps. Had the game been today, I feel like in this situation you make a way, no matter what it is. I would have said I was perfectly fine if the game was today.
It doesn't sound like Iguodala will be fully healthy for Game 7, but he's going to give it all he has nonetheless. If the 2015 Finals MVP manages to work through his back injury and the "Sopranos" finale to limit LeBron and get the Warriors a title, his performance could go down as one of the bravest in franchise history.
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